Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park

 
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Trail Ridge Road is just one feature of the dynamic Rocky Mountain National Park. While parts of the park are closed seasonally or due to inclement weather, the park is, on the whole, open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is an outdoor person’s paradise; offering camping, bicycling, climbing, picnicking, and fishing. There is no shortage of wildlife and wildflowers.

 

The first time I ever drove Trail Ridge Road, I prepared for it like the pioneer settlers of yesteryears. I’m not sure why I had in my mind that I would suffer from altitude sickness, especially given that I live in Boulder County (elevation: 5,400 feet), but I had hydrated and brought along some bananas so my trip along the road, which reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet, would be successful. Others are recommended to do the same.

 

Growing up near the park, it is inevitable that you hear tales of people traveling the road only to come across some freak snowstorm and have to abandon their vehicles and hike to shelter.  Thankfully my first crossing was very uneventful, and all I have are memories of the golden leaves on the Aspen trees waving to me as I drove by.

In the autumn, Coloradans can be found in the parks mountains chasing fall colors, the sounds of the elk bugle, which can be heard throughout the area.

 

It should be noted that, as with the rest of the globe, Rocky Mountain National Park is experiencing the effects of climate change. Perhaps the most noticeable effect is the number of trees that have fallen victim to the pine beetle outbreak. Conservationists and scientists are monitoring the impact of the pine beetle, and of climate change more broadly.

 

Watch out for rising entry fees at all National Parks in 2018, and for fewer free pass days. In addition to (dwindling) government funding, National Parks are supported by donors and members, so definitely consider supporting the parks in your area or that you dream of visiting.

 

Background, Context & Reference

 

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Thanks to  Mark West  for the graphic.